I had a show on Monday – video will be up as soon as I collect change from my couch/sneak a few cents from homeless people’s 7-11 Big Gulp cups – which went pretty well. I honestly think it may have been the best crowd I was in front since I started doing stand-up. Right before I got on-stage though I was told I didn’t have enough people there to be considered for the contest they were holding that night.
I also found out that despite the fact that I had six minutes of material it would be cut down by a full minute for the same reason. That means the material I had been practicing needed to edited on-the-spot right before I took the stage.
That’s a daunting task.
I had practiced this material and the way I tell jokes is, generally, in the form of a story where everything gets tied all together at the end of the set.
Not this time.
Basically it had to end before I could put the cherry on top. Basically it ended with me awkwardly telling a joke that was supposed to be featured in the middle of the set. Basically I felt like I had failed.
That may have gotten a little more heavy than I intended, but…
I got off the stage and realized that I need to take this more seriously if I want to do it full-time, or even part-time, and get paid for it.
So I am making more of an effort to get out to open mics and did just that last night when I ventured down to The Grizzly Pear.
Before I dive into the disastrous night that unfolded I have to say I have kind of lost some focus on this blog, in a way. I just want to note that I post everything I do in my comedic progression to showcase every aspect that goes into trying to make it in this business. I feel there is a kind of shield around how comedians started – they don’t mind talking about it, but sometimes people think they just got up there and it was comedic gold and that’s not the case. I think it’s important to note specific things that happen from the good – getting people to laugh at your jokes – to the bad – standing on a stage and having absolutely no one laugh at anything you’re saying. It’s important for people to see that everyone goes through this and that it’s a natural part of the process.
So onto last night…
I arrive at the Grizzly Pear and find it to be a quaint bar with an interesting seating area in the back that seemed to be more S&M/Vaudeville than a place that would host comedy, but it had a mic so we were all set.
Earlier in the day I decided on the untested, un-vetted, and completely unrehearsed material I was going to unveil that night. In my head it was hilarious – not the first time this has happened and I would imagine not the last – so I was confident and ready to be signed immediately by the big name agents that always attend free open mics in the village…
My name is called and I make my way up to the microphone to thunderous applause from the supportive crowd. I’m feeling great. This is my foray into a new style of comedy. I wanted to try and act like this stuff was just coming out off the top of my head. Like it was a free-flowing conversation that would result in uproarious laughter leading some people to insanity…and if I made a few connections there it wouldn’t hurt either.
About one-minute – ONE MINUTE, SIXTY SECONDS, A THIRD OF THE TIME IT TAKES TO MAKE A HOT POCKET IN THE MICROWAVE – in to my set I had already failed. The room that I entered was now the size of a football field. I tried to make out the faces in the crowd but the blinding spotlight prevented that – It may have been a good thing – but it also ensured all focus was on the sweaty redhead begging people to laugh at things he created in his mind and presented to them.
I think I got around two chuckles and, when it really comes down to it, chuckles during comedy are pity laughs probably made more of nervous energy than anything else. Those people knew I was the Titanic and they were the iceberg and they were like “laughter is the only way to get us to move so…sorry!”
And then I hit the iceberg. I got to about a minute and a half of material – with another two and a half to go – and I decided I’m the captain of this ship and fuck it I’m saving myself. So I hopped off stage and swam to the safer confines that were the seats that were shrouded in darkness so no one could see my face.
I grabbed my bag and sneaked out the front door with a mixture of self-pity, anger – WHY DIDN’T IT WORK?! – sadness and remorse. Despite all that I still never for a moment considered quitting. I can’t reflect on my life and think “what if?” and I hope next time I get to perform for the entire time a Hot Pocket takes to cook.